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Monday, January 24, 2022


by Mary K O'Melveny

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, was one of the world’s most famous peace advocates, philosophers and poets. He developed the concept of “engaged Buddhism” and worked actively to bring an end to the tragic American war against Vietnam and bring aid to its victims, without taking sides in the conflict. He lived in exile in France for many years and returned to Vietnam in 2005. He wrote more than 100 novels, books of poetry, short stories, essays and religious philosophy treatises, including Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, and The Miracle of Mindfulness. He died on January 22 at the age of 95 at a Buddhist temple in Hue. Kham/Reuters photo accompanying January 23, 2022 “Thich Nhat Hanh obituary” at The Guardian: Thich Nhat Hanh at the Non Nuoc pagoda, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2007.

is the light that shines through
each thought, each act, each breath,
each miracle that makes our world
alive    present   comprehensible
each breath forms a bridge
between our body and our mind 
heart and touch   sight and vision
knowledge and understanding
if we sit  as Buddha might sit
inhale   exhale   inhale    exhale
we learn from each leaf  each egret
each flowing river  each drop of rain
if we walk as if our feet
seeded flowers  our earth transforms
each day is the only day given
to make our peaceful pathway
each part of us  is part of all
each idea   each action    bears our name
hope will make each day bearable 
then we can begin to save each other

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.